Friday, February 28, 2014

S&W Race: Valco

Valco are a hardy race of bipedal goatlike humanoids. They are generally viewed as uncouth, untrustworthy primitives with no social graces and questionable intentions. The valco find these views flattering. They are also confrontational and aggressive, preferring to find employment whenever possible as mercenaries, soldiers, explorers, bandits, or some other martial endeavor. They are never wholly accustomed to the idea of asking before taking, though they eventually make an effort to conform to society most of the time.

Valco can see in the dark (darkvision) with a range of 60 feet. They have a +2 bonus to saves against poison and disease, and can, will, and do consume almost any organic substance without harm. If a valco can charge for at least 10 feet, they can make a charge attack with their horns that inflicts 1d8 points of damage.

Valco can be Assassins (5th level), Fighters (6th level; 7th level with a Strength of 15+), or Thieves (4th level).

1d6 Random Valco Characters

  1. A smuggler looking (1d4: 1-for a route under the mountains; 2-for places to store contraband; 3-to diversify into tomb robbing and grave goods; 4-to get out of town for awhile).
  2. A fledgling (kidling?) valco swordmaster is interested in testing his metal (literally) against monsters, rather than “civilized” opponents.
  3. A roguish valco has been trading on the resemblance, and reputation, of satyrs, and needs to get out of town to avoid some angry husbands (or wives).
  4. A former bandit is under a magical compulsion (geas, quest, oath, or similar) to behave in a “honorable and righteous” manner, and is trying to comply.
  5. A valco assassin has been hired to eliminate one of the party under very specific circumstances, but is considering switching sides for the right payoff.
  6. A former minion of an evil politician/wizard (now dead) has decided looting the secret dungeons of her former employer could be a profitable endeavor.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Spells: Four More Updated Spells for Swords & Wizardry

These are the 2nd-level spells that I updated or created for the gondlir. In regular play, Aid, Augury, and Portent are all 2nd-level Cleric spells; Countersong does not clearly fit into an existing class spell list.

Level: 2
Range: Touch
Duration: 1 hour
The recipient gets a +1 bonus to attack rolls for the duration of the spell, and 1d8 bonus hit points, potentially increasing their hit points above normal for the duration of the spell. This spell cannot be cast on a character already in combat.

Level: 2
Range: Personal
Duration:  Special/ 3 turns
You perform a divination to reveal whether a particular action within the next 3 turns will bring weal or woe to yourself and your companions. The chance of success is 70% plus your level.

Level: 2
Range: 120 feet
Duration: Concentration
You sing, chant, or recite a poem, and by doing so negate the effects of any auditory power or spell from creatures with a HD of double your level or less. Creatures already under the effect of such a power get a second save from this spell. The effect lasts for as long as you continue.

Level: 2
Range: Touch
Duration: Special
This spell warns the caster if the target is likely to have an episode of good or bad luck, in the form of a modifer to a d20 roll.  The Referee rolls a d6 and a d12 in secret when this spell is cast: the d6 determines the modifier, and the d12 the interval. On the d6 1=-3, 2=-2, 3=-1, 4=+1, 5=+2, and 6=+3. This information is given to the caster in the form of “good” (a +2 or +3 bonus), “fair” (+1 or -1), or “poor” (-2 or -3). The d12 is the number of attack rolls and saving throws the target must make until the modifier takes effect; in other words, if the d12 result is “7”, the 7th attack roll or saving throw the target makes after portent is cast will receive the portent modifer. The Referee should count only rolls that have real consequences, such as injury, and not “play-fighting” or other attempts to control the result.

Monsters: Hybrid Horses Haul Heroes

Nothing says your grain has gotten moldy and there's something wrong with the water quite like medieval bestiaries and heraldry. If your heroes are bored with horses, but not quite ready for hippogriffs and griffons, here are four equine-ish creatures to help out.

Hit Dice: 
Armor Class: 5[14] 
Attacks: 2 claws (1d4+1), 1 bite (1d6) 
Saving Throw: 13 
Special: Rake (2d4) 
Move: 18 (Fly 21) 
Alignment: Neutral 
Number Encountered: 3d4 (herd) 
Challenge Level/XP: 4/120 
An alektrequus has the head, wings, and forelegs of a rooster, and the body of a horse. They can be trained to carry a rider, but they are extremely bad-tempered.

Alektrequus: HD 4; AC 5[14]; Atk 2 claws (1d4+1), 1 bite (1d8); Move 18 (Fly 21); Save 13; AL N; CL/XP 4/120; Special: None.

Hit Dice: 2+1
Armor Class: 7[12]
Attacks: 1 bite (1d6), 2 hooves (1d3)
Saving Throw: 16
Special: None
Move: 15
Alignment: Neutral
Number Encountered: 3d6 (herd)
Challenge Level/XP: 2/30 

The asittern, or ass-bittern, is a hybrid animal with the body of a donkey and the head of a bittern, a water bird. They live in marshes and swamps, and are sometimes domesticated by marsh dwellers as beasts of burden. They are stubborn and bad-tempered. The hippittern is a larger breed of the same creature.

Asbittern: HD 2+1; AC 7[12]; Atk 1 bite (1d6), 2 hooves (1d3); Move 15; Save 16; AL N; CL/XP 2/30; Special: None.

Hippittern: HD 3+1; AC 7[12]; Atk 1 bite (1d8), 2 hooves (1d3); Move 18; Save 14; AL N; CL/XP 3/60; Special: None.


Hit Dice: 3+1
Armor Class: 6[13]
Attacks: 1 bite (1d2), 2 hooves (1d3)
Saving Throw: 14
Special: Rake (2d4)
Move: 18 (Fly 18)
Alignment: Neutral
Number Encountered: 1d4 (herd)
Challenge Level/XP: 3/60
A hippalectryon has the foreparts of a horse, and the wings and hindquarters of a giant rooster. They are can be trained to carry a rider. All hippalectryon are male and reproduce by breeding with other equine species (including alektrequus, asitterns, hippitterns, hippogriffs, horses, pegasi, and unicorns). If a hippalectryon hits with its two hoof attacks, it can leap into the air and attack with the claws and spurs on its hind legs, inflicting 2d4 points of damage.

Hippalectryon: HD 3+1; AC 6[13]; Atk 1 bite (1d2), 2 hooves (1d3); Move 18 (Fly 18); Save 14; AL N; CL/XP 3/60; Special: rake (2d4).

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

New Monsters: Giant Chipmunks and the Ghcturu

Uvetyz (Giant Chipmunk)
The uvetyz are chipmunks the size of bears. They live in dense forests, excavating extensive burrows in which to store food and anything that catches their interest. They are primarily vegetarians, but are quick to attack if threatened. They can stuff a halfling-size or smaller creature into a cheek pouch with a successful attack roll instead of doing damage.

Uvetyv: HD 5; AC6(13); Atk 1 bite (1d8); Save 12; Special:cheek pouch; Move 12, burrow 12; Alignment: Neutral; CL/XP: 5/240

Adventure Hooks: Retrieve an item a uvetyz has stolen; take refuge in a uvetyz burrow for shelter or to find food.

The ghcturu are a race of giant ant-like insects that live in open grasslands. They have multi-faceted eyes; long, rigid wings; and an elongated abdomen ending in a stinger. They are charcoal in color and stand six feet high at the shoulder. They dig labyrinth tunnels underground and create towering mounds of soil above ground from which to survey their territory. They speak their own language of movement, scent, and sound, and one ghcturu in each colony can speak Common. Their poison paralyzes for 1d4 hours with a failed saving throw.

Ghcturu: HD 5; AC 3(16); Atk 1 bite (1d8) and 1 sting (1d4+poison); Save 12; Move 9, fly 18; Alignment: Neutral; CL/XP: 6/400

Adventure Hooks: Negotiate an agreement between humans and ghcturu, one of whom is moving into the other's territory; fight off a ghcturu attack and find out why they have suddenly begun attacking travellers.

Monday, February 24, 2014

In my opinion... a phrase you're almost never going to see here.

Recent posts on other blogs have gotten me thinking about opinion essays. They are a stalwart of the OSR blogosphere.  They are, quite possibly, the mainstay of the OSR blogosphere.

I hate writing them.

I have opinions, and I'm not particularly reticent to express them, but I'm not particularly judgmental and I'm not fond of conflict. There is a deep-rooted part of me that does not care how anyone else plays their game, and finds it peculiar that other people actually have emotions about it. Proselytizing my beliefs has no appeal to me; condemning others has no interest; I generally find it more efficient to show rather than say; and when writing for the OSR and Swords & Wizardry, I honestly enjoy working within the context of the system even when it's disagreeable or awkward.

When I first got online, back in the glory days of TSR AOL, I did so expressly to network with the designers at TSR.  Online time was limited, so I picked the board with what seemed to be the best/most intelligent conversation and TSR participation.  That was the Greyhawk board. I listened, I learned, I read, and I wrote Greyhawk.

Fifteen (sixteen?) years later, I still haven't ever run a GH campaign. To my knowledge, I might have played in one GH game, at Gen Con 1999. I homebrew my campaigns.  But writing for Greyhawk, and the feedback from the wider audience (including Roger Moore, Erik Mona, Sean K Reynolds, Gary Holian,  and Eric Boyd) was an invaluable education, and the only thing I regret is not seizing more of the opportunities that knocked on my door (hint: when someone at TSR sends you a message that there's an entry level position open to run the copy machine and you should apply to get your foot in the should DO IT.)

Writing for Swords & Wizardry, I learn something with every post and every comment.  Sometimes this blog is my private little podium behind which I toot my own horn, but usually I think of it as a product.  A whimsical little product that doesn't answer to anyone but me, but a product nonetheless. A game-content delivery product, because that's what amuses me.  And I hate writing opinion pieces.

Random Monsters in progress

Making progress. Sometimes the dang thing even works.

This creature is called a Mertionscar, or Banetwitch Skeleton
They are a race of hares. It is iron in color and medium, like a human or leopard in size.
It is a Magical Creature, and is of low intelligence. They are Chaotic.
HD 2+2; AC 3 (16); Atk 1 weapon (1d6); Save 16; Special: ; Move 15, burrow 12; Alignment: Neutrality

  • This one worked really well. They could be fey (pookas), constructs (messengers), or just a magical race of giant weapon-wielding rabbits.
  • The S&W monster generator adds a mechanical layer on top of the random monster layer, so right now both produce alignments. I'm tempted to strike alignment out of the random monster creator.
  • I need to add more color variations; or maybe make it a function of type, so Constructs would yield materials rather than color.
  • Looking at the SW Monster DB, there's not as many common special abilities as I'd hoped. That's kinda cool, but also makes more work.

One hour later....
OK, getting better. Random Monster Generator results:
This creature is called a Apinoa, or Beetle Champion. They are a race of sparrows. It is normal in color and medium, like a human or leopard in size. It is a Monstrous Beast, and is of human intelligence. They often lair in sub-tropical woodlands.
This creature is called a Outcitw, or Banewood Boar. It looks like a raven crossed with a troglodyte. It is normal in color and huge, like a giant or elephant in size. It is a Magical Creature, and is of human intelligence. They are known for having a composed attitude. They prefer to live in tropical jungles.

This creature is called a Getdiic, or Fireleech Mystic. It looks like a moth crossed with a rhinoceros. It is white in color and huge, like a giant or elephant in size. It is a Magical Creature, and is of low intelligence. They are known for having a stern attitude. They prefer to live in temperate mountains.

This creature is called a Reen, or Spiredoor Crocodileserpent. It has the body of a horse, the torso of a owl, and the head of a ferret. It is normal in color and small, like a halfling or dog in size. It is a Folk, and is of human intelligence. They live in large clans. They are a violent and a tight-lipped people. They prefer to settle in temperate woodlands.

And S&W Monster Generator: Pretty decent as concepts, I think.
This creature is called a Nalaste, or Shiphaven Pigcrocodile. It has the head of a katydid and the body of a antelope. It is normal in color and tiny, like a rat in size. It is an Animal, and is of animal intelligence. They prefer temperate steppes.
HD 4; AC 6 (13); Atk ; Save 13; Special: ; Move 12; Alignment: Any

This creature is called a Tafitnu, or Hawkspawn Philosopher. It has the body of a bee, the torso of a troglodyte, and the neck of a guardian naga. It is normal in color and large, like an ogre or horse in size. It is a Folk, and is of human intelligence. They live in tiny tribes. They are an opinionated people. They prefer to settle in tropical mountains.
HD 2+2; AC 9 (10); Atk 2 claws (1d4); Save 16; Special: ; Move 15; Alignment: Neutrality

This creature is called a Ntleno, or Spectral Half-lava Wasp. They are a race of parrots. It is gray in color and tiny, like a rat in size. It is a Spirit, and is of human intelligence. They live in temperate hills.
HD 1d6; AC 4 (15); Atk 1 bite (1d4); Save 18; Special: ; Move 3; Alignment: Neutrality

This creature is called a Oouerimkna, or Crystal Spirit. It looks like a coyote crossed with a crane. It is normal in color and medium, like a human or leopard in size. It is a Magical Creature, and is of human intelligence. They are known for having a proud attitude. They prefer to live in tropical swamps.
HD 2; AC 6 (13); Atk 1 bite (1d6); Save 16; Special: ; Move 15; Alignment: Neutrality

This creature is called a Gll, or Leechcat. It looks like a black pudding crossed with a gerbil. It is normal in color and medium, like a human or leopard in size. It is an Animal, and is of animal intelligence. They prefer sub-tropical prairies.
HD 2+1; AC 6 (13); Atk 1 bite (1d4); Save 16; Special: ; Move 9; Alignment: Any

This creature is called a Geneici, or Snakechild Half-lost. It looks like a eagle crossed with a caiman. It is normal in color and large, like an ogre or horse in size. It is a Monstrous Beast, and is of animal intelligence. They often lair in sub-tropical steppes.
HD 2+3; AC 7 (12); Atk 1 weapon (1d6); Save 16; Special: ; Move 15; Alignment: Chaos

This creature is called a Ciposmag, or Fish Witch. It has the body of a nessian warhound, the head of a choker, the hind legs of a giant bee, and the hind legs of a svirfneblin gnome. It is normal in color and medium, like a human or leopard in size. It is a Construct made of silver and white marble and is of animal intelligence..
HD 3+3; AC 7 (12); Atk 2 claws (1d4); Save 14; Special: ; Move 9, swim 15; Alignment: Neutrality

Saturday, February 22, 2014

S&W Races: Mongrelmen and Ubue

Mongrelmen have no set appearance, being bizarre and hideous amalgamations of other races. They speak their own language and Common.

Mongrelmen can see in the dark (darkvision) with a range of 60 feet. They have a +1 bonus to Strength and Constitution, but a -3 penalty to Charisma at character creation (maximum 18; minimum 3). They can mimic the sounds made by any creature they have previously encountered, including special vocal powers, but not the effects thereof. A successful saving throw by suspicious creatures detects the falsehood.

Mongrelmen can be Fighters (6th level; 7th with Strength 13+) or Thieves (8th level; 9th with Dexterity 13+).

Unique mongrelmen can be created with the Mongrelmen entry in the Tome of Horrors Complete.

The ubue are a bizarre, primitive race of extreme rarity. They have three heads, three legs, and three arms. They are approximately the size of ogres, and may be an offshoot of that race, or the result of an ogre/ettin affair. They speak their own language.

Ubue characters begin play with an extra hit die (1d6) in addition to their class hit dice. They have a +1 to their starting Strength and Constitution scores, but take a -1 on Intelligence and Charisma. They can carry shields, but must wear customized armor (double price). Ubue can make three natural attacks in a round, each inflicting 1d4 points of damage if successful, but have a move of 9 due to their unusual physiology.

Ubue are really three personalities in one body, and the personalities occasionally(15%) clash in tense situations. An ubue arguing with itself takes a -2 penalty to attacks, saving throws, and Armor Class.

Ubue can be Fighters(8th level; 9th level with a Strength of 14+) or Druids (3rd level; ubue druids are known as Shamans and are of Chaotic alignment).

Four Random Generators

I had a minor epiphany and went back to work on some random generators on Abulafia. 
TL;DR:  Random Word GeneratorRandom Monster GeneratorSwords & Wizardry Monster GeneratorFantasy Class Generator

So, first up, the Random Word Generator
Examples: iesveruaafgetcagen, opaid, eth, canb, covoallterscy, nuoc, tokocol, sonai, verpolandgderae.

Which led to the Random Monster Generator (inspired by the Creature Creator at Age of Fable, although with a bit more work the two will be quite a bit different, I hope).
This creature is called a Fafael, or Aurochshambler
It has the head of a giraffe and the body of a panda. It is pale yellow in color and small, like a halfling or dog in size.
It is a Spirit, and is of above-human intelligence. It is Neutral.

This creature is called a Exdaus, or Ethereal Direrat
It looks like a slug crossed with a centipede. It is normal in color and large, like an ogre or horse in size.
It is a Magical Creature, and is of human intelligence. They are Neutral.

This creature is called a Temmyex, or Ape Spirit
It has the body of a ermine, the tail of a lightfoot halfling, and the head of a orangutan. It is lavender in color and small, like a halfling or dog in size.
It is a Monstrous Beast, and is of human intelligence. They are Neutral.

Note: I don't know how the randomizer at Abulafia works, but it's clearly not quite random. Results tend to run in groups, and it's been displaying an odd fondness for "Creature has the hind legs of" or "Creature has the head of", with the result that a number of creatures have been multi-headed, multi-hind legged monstrosities without torsos or front legs.

And that brings us back around to something I started a year or two ago, the Swords & Wizardry Monster Generator. If you get a mostly blank result, you got a creature with a HD of 10+, and nothing has attacks or special yet. I can't randomize CL/XP either, unless I start with that and work backwards (maybe later).

This creature is called a Bclebee, or Gibbershredder
It has the body of a flying fox, the torso of a turkey, and the hind legs of a wasp. It is normal in color and medium, like a human or leopard in size.
It is a Spirit, and is of human intelligence. It is Chaotic.
Hit Dice: 3+3
Armor Class: 5 (14)
Saving Throw: 14
Move: 12
Alignment: Chaos

This creature is called a Genlar, or Doom Ant
It has the head of a peccary and the body of a cat. It is normal in color and small, like a halfling or dog in size.
It is a Magical Creature, and is of low intelligence. They are Neutral.
Hit Dice: 8+2
Armor Class: 4 (19
Saving Throw: 8
Move: 9
Alignment: Chaos

I didn't work on the Fantasy Class Generator this time around, but it's there too.

Friday, February 21, 2014

S&W Race: Aurad

Aurad (Artists)
Aurads are elegant, aristocratic beings with multi-hued skin and avian plumage in place of hair. They are tall, fine-boned and fine-featured, with languid movements like the opening of a peacock's tail. They consider themselves the epitome of civilized taste, and prefer aesthetic pleasures to ethical ones. They usually live in enclaves within other races’ cities, where they are traders and craftsmen – but always under the guise of the artist or connoisseur.

Aurads begin play with a +1 bonus to their Charisma (18 maximum). They are light-loving creatures and take a -1 penalty to attacks in when not in bright light. Aurads can flare their plumage to dazzle onlookers, who must succeed at a saving throw or take a -1 penalty to attacks for one round. Despite their haughty disposition, they are cunning businesscreatures, with a 4 in 6 chance of evaluating the correct worth of an item at a glance.

Aurads can advance as Fighters (4th level), Magic-Users (7th level; 8th with 18+ Intelligence), or Thieves (unlimited). If the Illusionist class is used, aurads can advance as Illusionists just as they can Magic-Users, but to one additional level.

Aurad: HD 1d6; AC 7[12]; Atk 1 weapon(1d6); Move 12; Save 18; AL L; CL/XP B/10; Special: dazzle, -1 attack in dim light.

1d6 Random Aurad Adventurers
  1. An artist (1d6: 1-music; 2-sculpture; 3-painting; 4-poetry; 5-dramatist; 6-interpretive dance) looking for inspiration.
  2. A collector of rare works searching for lost masterpieces.
  3. A “rebel” aurad looking to live the “real” life of a “primitive”.
  4. A performance artist whose preferred medium is melee combat.
  5. A information artist (ie spy, agent, herald, rumor-collector).
  6. An elderly aurad that has grown bored and is looking for a little excitement before she dies.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Item: Sacnoth

Near unto the village of Allathurion lay the swamps of Tharagawerug the dragon-crocodile, who would eat for his meal one man a day. Through the fortitude and determination of Leothric, the heir of Allathurion, Tharagawerug was overcome and the metal of his body melted down until only the steel of his spine remained. One of Tharagawerug’s eyes honed the edge of the unyielding metal; the other, gleaming wetly sapphire, was set into the hilt of the honed blade, the blade Sacnoth.

Sacnoth is a +3 bastard sword. A sapphire steel eye gleams in the hilt, blinking and moving of its own accord. The eye grants Sacnoth’s wielder a +1 bonus to armor class and all saving throws; the wielder can choose to add an additional +1 or +2 bonus to his armor class, but takes the same amount as a penalty to his attack and damage rolls. The eye cannot be blinded, sees invisible and extra-dimensional creatures, and through all manner of darkness. It has a 25% chance of deflecting arrows before they strike, and can deflect magic missiles as well. 

Sacnoth itself is indestructible. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Magic Items: Soulguard and the Spiderblade

Soulguard is a +1 longsword with a milky white blade that emits thin trails of aetherial vapor anytime it is unsheathed. It has the power to strike incorporeal creatures as though they were solid, and a creature killed by Soulguard cannot be reanimated as an undead, although it may be raised, resurrected, or reincarnated.

Soulguard was created in Romagna several centuries ago for a noble family whose renovations on the ancestral residence had unearthed their family’s founder, now a vampire. The sword was the traditional weapon of the heir for several generations afterwards, but disappeared nearly a century ago, along with the heir and her adventuring companions. Recent rumors place Soulguard in a dragon’s horde near Skelva, and the Cuthwyne family would pay dearly for its return.

The guard of this delicate +2 rapier (treat as a shortsword) is worked to resemble a cobweb, complete with a diamond-eyed spider. The Spiderblade grants its wielder a +2 bonus to saves versus poison and the ability to cast insect plague once per day.

The exact provenance of the Spiderblade is unknown, but it is first mentioned in a number of accounts from the Hundred Kingdoms region, where it was carried by a half-elven mercenary captain. It has reappeared sporadically since then, and may currently be in the possession of an orc tribe in the Scarlet Peaks.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Random Blog Post Table

Deciding what to post every day is stressful, so in true OSR fashion, here's a random table to do it for you (and me).

Random Blog Post Content Determination Table

Status Updates and A Request.

The necali race is now the 3rd most popular post I've done this year, judging by the "pluses" it's received. It's approximately double the average ToHC race post.  I'm taking it as a referendum on new material and on "complete" vs "succinct" presentation.  I've been trying to make posts slightly less generic and more substantive, so this is incredibly encouraging. There are two final ToHC races left to go, and then I've got some slightly more obscure races lined up. This is an incentive to add a bit more material into those, and get cracking on more 100% new stuff.

The top posts at the moment, for this year, are Notes on the Norse Classes (might get surpassed by tomorrow) and The Complete Illusionist Update (not a chance).

I'll probably release some more of the Norse/Asyr material this week.  The Thor/Rymr class is basically done; the other classes are sketched in.

The Complete Illusionist is a little more complicated.  In a nutshell, it's going fine. I've been using Scrivener to organize and edit the spells, which has made things a lot easier, and I really like it.

I'm using a free/preview version of Scrivener that expires after 30 days of use, of which I have 12 days remaining. Using the program for any duration during a day burns up one day, whether it's 10 minutes or 10 hours. That's forced me to not work on the illusionist unless I'm sure I can dedicate at least two or three hours to it, which rarely happens. The license for Scrivener is only $40, but because of my current circumstances, that's extremely low on the list of things to spend cash on.

The cost/benefit/value issue has been on my mind a lot recently, and I'm looking into ways to get a little more support out of my writing. Patreon is one option, probably with a shift towards less frequent but more substantive posts (2-3 per week?) on the blog. Publishing short "filler" products is another option, but not one I'm excited about.

In the meantime, if you'd like to help me finish up the Complete Illusionist, I've repaired the Donate button in the sidebar. $40, and I'll buy the Scrivener license* and get to work**.
(Any additional funds will go to convincing my wife that this is a worthwhile thing to spend time on. At $100, including the  $40 for the license, I'll park myself in a library, put on headphones, and work for 12 hours.  At $500 (ha!) I'll write for a week.)

*I will buy the license eventually no matter what. This just means it'd be sooner.
**Not that I'll be lazing around otherwise....

I've got at least two other substantial projects under consideration, but nothing I'm comfortable talking about until I get the Illusionist finished.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

S&W Race: Necali

Necali (Gardeners)

The necali are slightly smaller than humans, approximately four-and-a-half feet to five-and-a-half feet tall. They have a broad face and large, wide-set eyes, and are fairly attractive. They have slender tentacles in place of hair, and pale skin that shifts colors with their moods. They prefer warmer climates, and both men and women usually wear nothing more than a shendyt, a kilt-like garment.

Necali are a communal people with an ingrained loyalty to their family. They see themselves as gardeners and caretakers, and have a skillful touch with plants. Outside of their homeland, many travel in groups as seasonal field workers. Smaller families sometimes travel as entertainers, usually with a menagerie of some kind. They are naturally calm and controlled, necessities when their emotions radiate on their skin. Their subdued mannerisms and simple lifestyle lead many to think them easily controlled, even docile, but they are highly rational and organized, with long-term view that measures time in seasons and years rather than days or weeks.

Rumor places the necali homeland far to the south and west, although some believe they have come even farther afield. In their own lands, the necali are masters of a crumbling empire that dominated a vast prairie, but decades of drought have nearly destroyed it. Many necali have been forced out as a result.

Necali adventure for a variety of reasons. Some seek information or magic to salvage their homeland; others look for riches to take home and use to buy security. Many view themselves as caretakers of people, not plants, and look to order the new society around them.

Necali can see in the dark (darkvision) with a range of 60 feet. Their keen eyesight also gives them a +1 bonus to hit with ranged weapons. They have a +2 bonus to saves against natural poisons (those inflicted by plants or animals, but not concocted or magical poisons).

Necali can be Fighters (7th level), Magic-Users (8th level), Monks (5th level), and Thieves (7th level). A necali with Prime Attribute of 14+ for their class can exceed the limit by one level; two levels if their attribute is 17+.

1d6 Random Nectali Adventurers

  1. A younger member of a necali troupe wants to get out from under her family’s thumb.
  2. A scout looking for a new place for his family to settle
  3. A spy surveying the local area as a possible conquest
  4. An escaped slave, searching for the rest of her family
  5. A magician researching druidic magic
  6. A former guardsman looking to prove his worth to a potential employer

Saturday, February 15, 2014

S&W Races: Dakon and Skulks

The dakon are a race of intelligent gorillas that dwell in isolated jungles and woodlands. They are friendly towards lawful humans but distrust other races, even elves. Dakon are similar to ogres in size and stature. They speak their own language and adventuring dakons speak Common.

Dakons can see in the dark (darkvision) with a range of 60 feet. They have a +1 bonus to Strength (maximum 18 at character creation), and have a +1 bonus to grappling attacks as well.  They can attack twice in a round with their claws, inflicting 1d4 points of damage with a successful attack. All dakons have the Thief skill Climb Walls as a thief of their level.

Dakon can be Fighters (7th level; 8th with a Strength of 15+) or Magic-Users (4th level; 5th with Intelligence 15+).

Skulks are a cowardly race of thieves and killers that dwell in the forgotten places of human cities. They speak their own language and Common.

Skulks can see in the dark (darkvision) with a range of 60 feet. Their skin is harded than leather, with a natural AC of 6 [13]. They are incredibly stealthy, and can surprise other creatures on a roll of 1-4 on 1d6. All skulks have the Thief abilities Move Silently and Hide In Shadows of a Thief of their level +15% as long as they are primarily unclothed. A skulk can freeze in place and use Hide In Shadows anytime they are not directly observed. In forested or subterranean settings they can pass almost without trace (-20% to track).

Skulks can be Assassins or Thieves (5th level).

Friday, February 14, 2014

Spells: Five Updated Spells for Swords & Wizardry

I posted a revised spell list for the gondlir, including a number of updated (or new) spells that don't appear in the official S&W rulebooks. These are the first level spells. In "normal" games, command and vow are 1st-level Cleric spells; know history is a 2nd-level Cleric and Magic-User spell; precipitation is a 1st-level Druid spell; and chant of valor is a 2nd-level Cleric spell (it's really weak, but bless is 2nd-level and this is roughly the same, so...)

Chant of Valor
Level: 1
Range: 60 foot radius around you
Duration: Concentration
You sing, chant, or recite a poem, and by doing so all allies within range receive a +1 bonus to attack rolls and saving throws vs fear for as long as you continue this spell. You cannot cast another spell while chanting, but you can melee. If you take damage, you must make a saving throw to keep chanting.

Level: 1
Range: 30 feet
Duration: 1 round
The target must make a successful saving throw or obey your one-word command for one round. They must be able to understand the command.

Know History
Level: 1
Range: Touch
Duration: Instant
This spell reveals the commonly known or public history of a person, item, or place. It does not reveal disguises, aliases, secrets, or private facts. The caster must touch a person or object, or be in a place to cast this spell.

Level: 1
Range: 30 foot radius burst within 60 feet.
Duration: 1 round per level
A light drizzle begins in the target area, even indoors or underground. This moisture extinguishes small, unprotected fires (such as candles) in the first round, and diminishes medium fires, like torches and campfires, by 50% (and their visibility by the same amount). Larger fires are unaffected. Ranged attacks suffer a 50% reduction in range through or in the area of precipitation.

Level: 1
Range: Touch
Duration: Permanent
The target swears a vow before the caster to perform a specific deed within an allotted period of time. If the deed is accomplished, the target receives a +5% experience point bonus for all experience points gained in pursuit of the deed. If the target fails, he forfeits 5% of the same experience points. Multiple vows do not stack. If a character vows to defeat the Red Wolf of Izenhold, and recover the Carnelian of Autarch Zarand, and recovers the latter from the body of the former, the xp bonus is +5%, not +10%. If the character kills the Red Wolf, and later in the adventure recovers the Carnelian, the xp bonus is still +5%, since the Carnelian vow remains in force after the Red Wolf vow is completed. A character could have competing or clashing vows.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Three Magic Items NOT Being Submitted to the OSR Superstar Contest

Designing for a role-playing game is equal parts science and art, and like both science and art, the blood, sweat, and tears of RPG design sometimes produces failure.

The OSR superstar contest (find your own link, I'm too lazy) is still going on (unless I've misunderstood the word "Sunday"). My own contributions are still awaiting submission (because what's the point of a deadline if you don't walk right up to it?), but they weren't the only items I came up with recently.  Here are three that didn't make the cut.

Unlucky Rabbit's Foot
The owner of this item suffers a -1 penalty to her AC and saving throws, but believes the opposite.

Neverburning Candle
This wax or tallow candle will not light under any circumstances whatsoever. Ever.

Armor of AC Reversal
This ornate suit of armor forces the player to use the opposite AC schematic than the one they are accustomed to. A chain mail suit of AC Reversal will be AC [14] to those who prefer descending AC, and AC 5 to anyone that prefers ascending AC.  The degree of protection does not change, only the mechanics around it.


If I ever do a "Complete Elementalist", this is going to be the cover. It's extraordinary.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Looking at Loki (Briefly)

I've been going through my image archive (I think I'm getting enough material to say that without sarcasm), and a recent comment on this blog made me think about how Loki is depicted in art, specifically art from the late 1800's and early 1900's (which is when most of my material is from).

This image, by Arthur Rackham, is how a lot of us think of Loki:

He's positively fiendish. You can see the connection between this and Tom Hiddleston's lean, clean, almost effeminate look. Rackham uses the cultural symbolism of the devil to make Loki's nature clear to the reader. Loki looks evil.

I prefer Elmer Boyd Smith's approach. This is Idunn being carried off by Thiazi, Skadi's father. Loki lures her outside of Asgard so Thiazi can capture her.

And this. At Loki's suggestion, Thor is being dressed up as a bride to trick the giants.  Loki is peering out from behind the curtain (there's probably intimations of Loki being a peeping tom/pervert in this, as he's looking into the women's realm, not to mention the more literal interpretation of witnessing Thor's cross-dressing, which Thor would clearly rather remain secretive about.The goddess on the right is Frigga; Freyja is on the left, with the cats. )

Loki is kinda hefty, with a beard and a receding hairline.  He looks like a Viking, not an elf-sprite. He looks like Shakespeare. It's a hard left turn from Rackham's diabolical depiction. Not the sort of person you expect to bring about Ragnarok and the destruction of the gods, but that's what makes it interesting. No one is surprised that Rackham's Loki is the father of Hel, Fenris, and the Midgard Serpent, but this guy?  This guy is the villain?

Therein lies a tale.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Crabmen and Grippli [Race] [S&W]

Crabmen are humanoid crabs the size of ogres. They have a large pair of pincers, and a smaller set of arms below those. They are peaceful creatures that live in small communities along coastal waters. They speak their own language and many speak Common.
Crabmen cannot wield weapons or wear armor (their pincers are too crude; their arms too weak), but they can attack twice in a round with their pincers, inflicting 1d6 points of damage with each attack, and have a natural AC of 3 [16]. They also begin play with an extra Hit Die (1d6). Crabmen can swim at a speed of 9, and hold their breath for a turn without effort (a crabman, caught by surprise and dragged underwater, can still hold their breath for a turn before beginning to drown).

Crabmen can become Fighters (4th level; 5th level with Strength 17; 6th level with Strength 18). Crabmen with an Intelligence of 16 or higher can become Magic-Users (3rd level); those with a Wisdom of 16 or higher can become Druids (3rd level). A crabman with Intelligence and Wisdom scores of 18 can become a Druid/Magic-User and advance to 5th level in both classes.

Grippli are small, brightly colored bipedal tree frogs that inhabit warm swamps and marshes. They speak their own language and some speak Common or Elven.
Grippli can move across mud, swamps, fens, and marshes without penalty. They can see in the dark (darkvision) to a range of 60 feet. All grippli have the thief skill of Climbing Walls as a thief of their level +5%; they can climb as fast as they can walk (speed 12).
Grippli can become Fighters (5th level) or Thieves (7th level).

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Dire Corbies and Silids [Race] [S&W]

Dire Corby
Dire corbies are an aggressive race of wingless humanoid crows.  They can see in the dark (darkvision) out to 60 feet, and their keen hearing allows them to fight blind without penalty, and listen through doors and thin walls on a roll of 1-3 on a d6 (+30% to the Thief skill).  Their thick, dark feathers give them a natural AC of 8 [11] and allows them to surprise foes on a roll of 1-2 on 1d6 in areas of darkness.  Unarmed dire corbies get a claw attack that inflicts 1d4 points of damage; at second level they can make two claw attacks a round. They speak their own language and have a percentage change equal to their Intelligence attribute of speaking Common at the beginning of the game.

Dire corbies can advance as fighters (8th level; 9th with Strength 14+) or Thieves (4th level; 5th with Dexterity 16+).

Dire Corby: HD 2; AC 5 [14]; Atk 2 claws (1d4); Move 12; Save 16; AL C; CL/XP 2/30; Special: None

Silid are a dark-loving race slightly smaller than dwarves, with gray skin and bulbous eyes.  Silid can see in the dark (darkvision) out to 90 feet, but take a -1 attack penalty in bright light (full sunlight). Once per day they can create a magical effect that blurs their image, granting them a +4 bonus to Armor Class for one turn.
Silid may be Fighters (5th level; 6th with a Strength of 13-16; 7th with a Strength of 17+) or Thieves (6th level; 7th with a Dexterity of 13-16; 8th level with a Dexterity of 17+).

The Referee may decide that silids are related to gnomes, and are also known as deep gnomes. These silidneblin may also advance as Illusionists (10th level; 11th with an Intelligence of 18+).

Silid: HD 1; AC 7[12]; Atk 1 weapon (1d6); Move 9; Save 17; AL C; CL/XP: 2/30; Special: Blur, -1 to hit in sunlight.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Notes on the Norse Classes: Overview, creative urges, and so forth.

Just over a year ago, John Stater posted an article on his Land of Nod blog translating several members of the Norse pantheon into individual races: the freyling, lokai, thunor, and wotani. It was an exercise in using the pantheons as the basis for demi-human races, and I thought it worked quite well.


Everyone's creativity is different. Some people excel at creation ex nihilo: from nothing. I do not. I springboard off of existing ideas, turning them around, rearranging parts, looking for gaps, disassembling them to find the logic, building them up again, and then springboarding off of that.

I can honestly say I would never have thought of turning the deities into races, but the instant I saw the article, I had to turn it around and ask: What if you turned the gods into classes? What would a 4th-level thor be like? A 1st-level odin? A 9th-level loki?

Other projects took my attention for awhile, but the concept was stuck in my head. I did some occasional research, made some decisions, and finally decided to go for it. The results will be posted over the next few weeks. I hope you enjoy them.

Guiding Principles
The classes must read as something new, not just an old class with a new name.
The classes must be compatible with existing classes and rules.
The classes are translations of the gods themselves, not devotees or servants of the gods. (These are not "just" skalds or valkyries or berserkers.)
Draw inspiration from, not slavish devotion to, the mythos. Be flexible.
Ideally one could create a party composed of nothing but the norse classes, and have it be an effective mixture of abilities.

The classes and their concepts can be separated into several groups:

The Big Three.
These were obvious.
  • Gondlir ("Wand-bearers") - The Odin-class. Preeminent in magical lore, capable warriors, but morally grey.
  • Rymr ("Noise") - The Thor-class.  Warrior-Champions.
  • Slaegi ("Sly") - The Loki-class. Trickster-magicians with elemental affinities.
Well-Known Gods
These were trickier. People are very familiar with the Norse mythos, but there's a fair amount of overlap in the capabilities and roles of the gods. It's extremely likely that many of the personalities we identify today were merged in some manner in the past - Tyr's name, for instance, literally means "god". Frey means "lord". Freyja's ("Lady") husband Odr is virtually unknown in the sagas, except that he disappeared for a time and Freyja went in search of him, having adventures of his own. It's speculated that Odr may be a variation of Odin, which would make Freyja a version of Frigga. I chose which gods to translate based on the clarity of their concept and how well it applied to an adventuring party.
  • Skade (unclear) - Skadi. Ranger/Scout. Skadi isn't particularly well known anymore, but she's one of the most unique Norse goddesses and has some pretty rockin' adventures. She doesn't take shit.
  • Vallir ("Bearer of the Slain") - Freyja. Witch-warriors. Stronger emphasis on protective and healing magics than the gondlir.
  • Vindler ("One Protecting Against The Wind") - Heimdallr. Martial guardian/protectors.
Niche Concepts
I might write some or all of these up, but they're more niche concepts, less suited to adventure, or fall outside of the immediate project scope.
  • Helreggin ("Ruler of Hel") - The Hel-class. Not a niche, actually. Necromancer-priest type. In the mythology, Odin & Freyja split the valiant dead, and Hel gets the rest.
  • Idunn - The guardian goddess of the apples of youth. One of the few goddesses that is notably not Freyja/Frigga. I've had a few thoughts about translating her into a class.
  • Tyr - A god of justice and kingship screams "paladin", and I haven't worked out how to do this without a) paladin, and b) having too many fighter-types.
  • Frey - A god of fertility and nobility screams "druidic paladin". See Tyr, above.
  • Frigga - Mostly appears as a wife and mother. Strong leadership material, but difficult to make work in an adventuring setting without turning her into a generic healer.
  • Uller - A lot of overlap with Skadi, unfortunately. He's the proto-typical ranger.
  • Baldr - Pretty boy. And he dies. Frey is a pretty boy too, and he ain't dead.
  • Dvergr - Dwarfs. Not a god, but makes sense. A quasi-magical thief/fighter class.
  • Alfar - Elves. Less defined in the mythos than the dvergr, aside from associations with light. Would be considerably toned down from the fighter/magic-users of D&D, but otherwise conceptually unclear right now.
A Note On Language
I do not speak any Scandinavian languages. I didn't even talk to someone who did while I was writing this. Rather than using the names of the gods as the names of the classes (it seemed weird, have a 3rd-level odin and a 4th-level loki), I pulled from lists of variant names each god was known by. This is a little tricky with the goddesses, as many of the variations end with "dis", which means "Lady", and I wanted to avoid really overt gender references*. I'm not sure if -lir/ler is masculine or neuter; most translations treat it as neuter, so I've used Vallir in place of Valdis for the Freyja-class.

*The -ess ending in English stems from the Latin -issa, but the scandinavian "god-dis" and "godd-ess" both translate as "female deity". Indo-European roots, I'll bet.

Revised Spell List for the Gondlir

Here's the revised spell list for the gondlir. It incorporates a bunch of new (old) spells that haven't been available in S&W (I've had a busy few hours), and takes out a couple that I didn't find interesting. Emphasis on thematic spells for the gondlir, and fleshing out levels that didn't have enough spells.
I will probably post the actual spells later. Asterisked* spells are the new/not-in-the-S&W-Complete-Rulebook spells.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Gondlir Class

Gondlir ("Wand-bearer")
The gondlir are a class of spellcasting warriors, and it is from their ranks that leaders of the Asyr are most often drawn. They are knowledge-keepers, decision-makers, sages, poets, and fighters. Their charge is to do what is best for the Asyr, by any means necessary.  Rymr or vindlir might lead in brawl or battle, but gondlir choose the war.

The nature of their role in society makes gondlir schemers, planners, and far-thinkers. A gondlir might go undercover as a wanderer to find out what is happening in other lands, or trick someone else into spying for him. They are not shy to directly intervene when trouble arises, but it is more typical that a gondlir will find a reason to send a rymr on a simple errand, one that just happens cross paths with the problem the gondlir wants solved.

Initiation to the ranks of the gondlir comes only after a long period of study and memorization in the accumulated knowledge of the Asyr and as a result, gondlir have an extensive store of wisdom and learning to call upon in the form of poems, stories, and tales. The heart and soul of a gondlir’s might are his secrets, mysteries, and lore - the spells of the gondlir. Even the best-intentioned gondlir knows things that cannot be spoken of, and the weight of their responsibilities makes them secretive and isolated, even among friends and companions. 

Gondlir are regarded as the most proficient magicians of the Asyr, although the slaegi dispute this. Gondlir magic focuses on divination, inspiration, deception, and manipulation, and they have some influence of the natural world and weather as well.

In fiction, JRR Tolkien's Gandalf is an excellent depiction of a gondlir. Manipulative spellcaster with a sword; dies and comes back stronger and better.

Prime Requisite: Intelligence, 13+ (+5% experience bonus)
Hit Dice: 1d6 per level (+2 hp per level after 9th level.)
Armor Permitted: Light or medium armor, shields
Weapons Permitted: Any one-handed weapon, plus bows, spears, and staffs.
Alignment: Gondlir are always Neutral.

Class Features
Gondlir Lore: Gondlir have a 1 in 6 chance of knowing something about a notable person, place, item, or creature. This improves to 2 in 6 at 3rd level, 3 in 6 at 6th level, 4 in 6 at 9th level, and 5 in 6 at 12th.

Spells: Gondlir cast spells from a personal list of spells they have learned. Each morning they prepare a number of spells equal to the Spells per Day entry for their level, chosen from the spells that they know. (A spell may be prepared multiple times if the appropriate “slots” are available.) Once cast, a spell is exhausted and must be prepared again (the next morning).

Gondlirs begin play knowing two spells, and automatically learn one additional spell each time they gain a level. Gondlir can also learn new spells through a process of experimentation and observation that takes at least 1d6 days per spell level, after which they make a percentile roll on the Chance to Understand New Spell column in the Intelligence table. Failure means the gondlir cannot learn that spell this level; success means the gondlir adds the spell to his list of spells known. A gondlir can only know a certain number of spells per spell level, however, as given on the chart below (note that this number is different from, and used instead of, the Min/Max Number of Spells Understandable per Spell Level on the Intelligence table.)

Trial of Shadows: Of all the Asyr, only the gondlir can enter Hel and return unaided. Anytime the gondlir is reduced to -1 hit points or less, he can attempt a Trial by rolling a saving throw. If the save is successful, the gondlir is restored to life with 0 hitpoints, and heals naturally thereafter (awakening in 1 day with 1 hit point). If the save fails, the gondlir dies. (If variant rules are used that normally cause death to occur at lower than -1 hit points, the gondlir automatically loses drops below that number with a failed save.) The gondlir may be restored to life as normal afterwards, but is still considered to have failed the Trial . If the gondlir died as a result of ongoing damage, that damage ends if the cause is internal (poison) and continues if the cause is external (engulfed in magma). A gondlir that dies as a result of disease continues to be afflicted (and may die again).

A Trial may be spontaneous (the result of battle) or planned (ritual sacrifice). The fates appreciate cleverness and forethought, so a prepared gondlir may undertake measures to increase his chances of successfully making the saving throw, but neither are the fates blind: the same methods cannot be used twice (this is not an automatic failure; the methods simply do not affect the save).

The greatest secret of the gondlir, however, is what they learn along the shadowy paths back from Hel. A gondlir that succeeds at a Trial returns to life increases their maximum number of spells known and the number of spells learned at each level increase. This happens only once per level, even if the gondlir undertakes (and succeeds at) multiple Trials.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

S&W Monster Database Submission Form

Putting this here so I have the link long time.

Armory Rod [Item] [S&W]

Armory Rod
This rod can be transformed into a +3 mace, +3 flail, +3 club, +3 short sword, or +3 quarterstaff. Upon command the rod separates into two identical weapons, each with a +2 bonus. Each of those weapons may be commanded to separate into two +1 weapons. The rod reassembles simply by touching the parts together.

Monday, February 3, 2014

S&W Appreciation Day posts I thought were really nice and worth noting

Yeah, it took me almost a year to finish this up. Thought it'd be a nice thing to post and drum up a little nostalgia.  Are we doing this again this year?

These are organized as the Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day Posts at Tenkar's Tavern
Volume 14:

 Volume 13.2:

 Volume 12:

Volume 10.8:

Volume 10:

Volume 9:

Volume 8:

Volume 7:

Volume 6:

Volume 5:
Volume 4:
Volume 3:
Volume 2:

Volume 1:

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Half-Ogres and Mites [Race] [S&W]

Half-ogres can see in the dark (darkvision) to a range of 60 feet. They begin play with one extra Hit Die (1d6) in addition to their hit dice from their class.  They have a +1 bonus to their starting Strength and Constitution scores, but take a -1 penalty to their Intelligence and Charisma attributes. These modifications cannot take an ability over 18 or below 3.

Half-ogres can be fighters (5th level), clerics (3rd level), or fighter/clerics. Single-classed half-ogres add one to these limits. They advance as high as 7th level as a fighter with a Strength of 13 or higher, and 5th level if their Wisdom is 15 or higher.

Mite (Common & Pestie)
Mites are diminutive relatives of goblins.
Mites can see in the dark (darkvision) to a range of 60 feet. They have a -2 penalty to their starting Strength attribute. Common mites have a move of 9 and bite attack that inflicts 1d3 points of damage. Pesties have a move of 15 and can surprise others on a roll of 1-2 on a d6. All mites have thief bonuses as a halfling, except they have a +10 to Hear Noise and a +5 to Open Locks.

Pesties cannot speak. Mites with an Intelligence of 9 or higher can begin play speaking Goblin.

Mites can be fighters (3rd level), thieves (unlimited), or fighter/thieves.